Peter Beinart reviews Joe Klein's new book. According to Mr. Beinart, Joe Klein is looking for something to enjoy as we look toward the 2008 Presidential campaign. (And who could blame him for wanting to leave the gloom and doom behind?) Klein's pretty tough on Democrats, and Beinart says it's for "good reason" - - political consultants are "at their most debilitating when the politicians they serve lack the courage of their convictions."
Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004 lacked the self-confidence to fire the consultants who kept them from saying what they really believed [..] Klein rightly flays Gore and Kerry for not being true to themselves..
Beinart mentions "the revolt against the consultants" and says that Joe Klein will likely get his wish for a more lively political campaign in 2008, when politics will become "more blunt, more free-wheeling, more fun."
Speaking from my own experience, I have been blogging at former Senator and VP candidate John Edward's One America Committee blog, and I've paid close attention to Senator Edwards' activity out there in grassroots America. I've watched him focus on the 21st-century fight against Poverty and I see that he's inspiring others to do the same. I read about his leadership on a recent trip to New Orleans where he and college students spent their Spring break assisting in the post-Katrina clean-up and rebuilding. I've listened to his impassioned speeches at colleges, in town halls, at union gatherings. Tomorrow night he will speak in Brussels to the most influential American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic. [Brussels Forum: Transatlantic Challenges in a Global Era]
Mr. Beinart closes by saying
Whether authenticity leads to victory, however, is less certain. Democrats may be learning to speak from the heart. But in a party that has been confused about its core beliefs for almost four decades, no one can be entirely sure how that will sound.
I understand Beinart's fear and I believe we both have the same hope that the American public, after so many years of Republican talking points that sound fantastic but wound up having no meat - (not even filler), will open their ears to a Democrat whose ideas don't just sound like more empty hamburger buns. They want the whole sandwich and they won't vote for anything less. I think Joe Klein will not only become interested while watching John Edwards as 2008 approaches...he may start turning some cartwheels and singing "Hallelujah". Edwards isn't "learning how" to speak from the heart...he's doing it right now... with gusto!
I sit here in Syracuse N.Y., but in my mind I'm goin' to Carolina. How fond I have become of the South in the Springtime. The North Carolina flowers bloom long before the snow melts away in the Northeast.
I recall the pastoral scenes from small towns along Route 85, the Blue Ridge wind singing ancient songs as it tickles my ear, the jewel-like Charlotte skyline at night, the charm of its tree-lined streets and sweet-smelling magnolia blossoms. I carry it with me throughout all my days. Every place has its own soul...it's own story. I've come away enchanted by the soul of these North Carolina places. I am haunted by great mystery, and North Carolina has more than its share of ghosts and inexplicable happenings.
One passed-down set of North Carolinian stories that has captured my imagination comes
from the days not so long ago when flesh and blood fell from the sky like rain. It happened in Sampson and Chatham counties. The first "flesh fall" recorded in North Carolina occurred on 15 February 1850 on the farm of Thomas Clarkson, thirteen miles southwest of the county seat of Clinton. The strange event was written about in the North Carolinian, a newspaper published in Fayetteville. In an account of that first incident, it was written:
"On the 15th Feb'y, 1850, there fell within 100 yards of the residence of Thos. M. Clarkson in Sampson county, a shower of Flesh and Blood, about 250 or 300 yards in length [...] Neill Campbell, Esq. living close by, was on the spot shortly after it fell, and pronounced it as above. One of his children was about 150 yards from the shower and came running to the rest saying he smelt something like blood. During the time it was falling there was a cloud overhead, having a red appearance like a wind cloud. There was no rain." [link]
The second flesh fall recorded in North Carolina occurred on February 25, 1884. Mrs. Kit Lasater, wife of a black tenant farmer who lived on the farm of Silas Beckworth in New Hope Township in Chatham County was standing in a freshly plowed field near a barn a short distance from her family's one room cabin when blood fell from a clear sky upon the ground, bushes and fence all around her. This strange event was chronicled in the local newspaper, the Chatham Record. Of the event, the paper reported:
"Many of the neighbors, after hearing of her statement, visited the spot and they all say that the ground--embracing an area of about 60 feet in circumference--was covered with splotches of something like blood: and an examination of the trees in this place showed blood on the branches. We are informed that a reputable physician of the neighborhood visited the spot and said it was blood." [link]
Chatham County has other legends, such as the one that began shortly after the first settlers came to Chatham County when they discovered a strange site, which soon became known as the Devil's Tramping Ground. An infertile circular patch of ground was thought to be Beelzebub's own footprints...the nocturnal retreat of the hellish Prince of Darkness which was shunned and avoided by the Chatham countyfolk.
Another legends surrounds lost treasure. A large amount of gold and silver was said to have been cached during the Civil War by the owner of the Williamson Plantation near Bynum on the Haw River. He was killed during the war without ever having revealed the location of the alleged cache.
I visited this little corner of the world of mystery last May. There's a lake covering the land where an entire community once stood. I sat in a very old cemetary that sits just off the side of the highway amid a small plot of leaning headstones in a field of wildflowers and weeds. Bugs buzzing 'round my head. The sound of an occasional car passing by. I found the headstone of a Silas Beckwith. Hmmm...Silas Beckwith...Silas Beckworth? Could they have been one and the same? I closed my eyes and tried to imagine blood and flesh falling down from a pink cloud in an otherwise blue North Carolina sky. Today you'd have your scientists running DNA tests and telling you exactly where that blood and flesh came from. You can't fool anyone these days. Mysteries are solved in the blink of an eye or the swish of a test tube. But what if it happened today and it stymied even the most advanced teams in the scientific community?
"I am but a visitor in the land of living things. The skin we wear is but a temporary robe.... That which we may receive in this place must be left here.. things cannot be taken with us, but all of our riches that we have accumulated in memories and knowledge shall go with us forever...."
- from Robert Morning Sky's 10 commandments of the Star Warriors
Stephen Colbert is a satirical American treasure. His interview of Bill Kristol the other night on Comedy Central's Colbert Report opened up the bleeding wound that was just beginning to scar over. Mr. Kristol gets a "special dressing" for that embarrassing wound every Sunday on Fox News...another chance each week to explain away the mountainous error of his (and the PNAC's) Utopian pre-Iraq war fantasies. Mr. Kristol isn't some neocon monster. He's a very intelligent man who got a little too drunk on his own power. He and a lot of other "experienced" men and women who were "in good" with the other "experienced" men and women in Bush administration got their big chance to use some of that "experience" to create ideas that brought our nation to the threshhold of a war that was never necessary. Where "experience" might have whispered "Be careful" in their ear, they ignored the voice. Their vision was too close. They held the power in their hands. "Experience" was set aside as they embarked on a never-before attempted endeavor. Pre-emptive war. Pax Americana.
The "experience" of war-seasoned Generals was ignored. The "experience" of chickenhawk wonks prevailed. These "experienced" people have made a f&$king mess of things for our nation.
The next time I hear ANYONE complaining about a Russ Feingold, a Mark Warner, a Hillary Clinton, or a John Edwards with the complaint that he (or she) has no foreign policy "experience", I think I will remind them that EXPERIENCE DIDN'T WIN US ANY BROWNIE POINTS in Bush's war on terror.
Bill Kristol is still a powerful guy..and a smart fellow. After Iraq, however, we see that he has not won by the power of his (or the PNAC's) ideas. As a matter of fact, we see that those ideas are quite dangerous. Perhaps they are more dangerous than the threat of terror itself.
So, when you hear Bill Kristol flapping his gums with a flash of his winning smile on Fox News talking about our need to gear up the wheels of the military draft in preparation for war on Iran and the Sudan, remember how far "experience" got us in Iraq. These people failed us. They failed our troops. They misled us. For all their "experience", they are empty power-drunk heads with missing hearts. A recent poll showed that 94% of Americans now understand that they were lied to. These "experienced" men of power couldn't win a f*$#king heart or mind in Iraq and they aren't doing such a hot job right here at home, either. They've lost the trust of American citizens because their actions (and the results of those actions) have proven that, for all their "experience", they do not deserve trust.
America deserves better than this and we all know it. We need to start electing trustworthy, intuitive, and intelligent leaders with better ideas. "Experience" tells us that we need to put these liars far behind us.